Lisa Solomon: Show & Tell Home Tour

And now for another fine Show & Tell Home Tour — this house tour comes out of Oakland, CA. We get to take a peek around the home of artist mama Lisa Solomon.

Come on inside...


I fell for Lisa Solomon's artwork awhile ago and most recently bought a print of her piece Doily Body: Lungs. Lisa kept her pregnancy on the "down low" online, but I was excited to learn about the birth of her first daughter seven months ago. After Lisa agreed to share her oh-so-nice DIY Origami Mobile, I couldn't wait to get more of a look around her creatively inclined home. Her home is rich with collections and art and small inspirational scenes and vignettes. She's a lover of small and pretty things and her dedication to buying and repurposing old things makes for a wonderful and homey place to live. Come, let's take a peek.

Lisa, tell us a little about your family and your home.

We live in Oakland, CA (across the bay from San Francisco). "We" is my husband, our two dogs, two cats, and our daughter who is seven months old.

We bought our Eastern Shingle style home in 1999 — it’s a two-story, four bedroom (two of the bedrooms are really small) house. We got really lucky in that this home wasn’t “ruined.” When we were looking for a house, we saw so many places that had been messed up over the years – gold marbled mirrors, cottage cheese ceilings... I wish that some of the original woodwork in our home wasn’t painted, but... The best part of our location is that we live on a cul-de-sac. It’s funny because our neighborhood is half industrial and feels very urban, but our street is super duper quiet – and has some nice trees. Lucky us.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Lisa's little obsession with birds and nests. The wooded spools with silk thread still on them came from Abigail Percy after she went to a flea market in France.

How do you approach decorating in your home? What's the most important thing?

We don’t really have a decorating approach — our home is a total mishmash of stuff that we like. My husband and I have been together for 19 years – our tastes have grown and changed together. We slowly started buying more “adult” furniture as we moved from apartment to apartment and then to a house. When we bought the house we currently live in, we definitely needed to get some pieces to flush out what we had. We just took our time going to flea markets and small stores. We slowly replaced crappy pieces of furniture with pieces of furniture that we knew we’d keep longer.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

The stove mantle (gas burning stove was installed a few years back) currently showcases tiny oil cans, vintage beaker collection and some sea items; the glove hand was a gift from Andrea.

You have a baby. How does her STUFF influence the look and feel of your home?

Well... It’s funny you ask this because I think I’m in a constant battle with STUFF anyway. I’m a total pack rat – and my husband and I both collect and like looking at STUFF. I’m also a closet minimalist – so part of me really wants to put everything away and live in a pristine environment. But that’s just not practical with us.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Vintage bottles Lisa inherited from her grandmother; vintage library shelving from Lisa's father in law; art by Beverly Rayner.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Dining room: Lisa has a thing for cake stands; cigarette sign found on eBay.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Vintage fan and antique Japanese cups.

The baby has just added more STUFF to our lives, but we are trying to be really careful about what we get and bring in. We were luckily given a lot of hand-me-down baby furniture and things. I plan on also giving the same stuff away to another soon-to-be mom. I also am trying really hard not to buy any new plastic things. Items that I think my daughter might enjoy (like the jolly doorway jumper), I look for on craigslist and buy used (I do check safety sheets to make sure that nothing has been recalled).

There are definitely days when I look at the toys scattered around the living room and think — ugh. But I try and put them all in little baskets — and I love that her playpen and exer-saucer fold up. I think you just have to be flexible. And also realize this STUFF isn’t going to be around forever. She’ll outgrow it — and we’ll move onto other stuff.

We did buy a high chair and certain things that we knew were going to be around for awhile in styles that we like. I love our space age bloom Fresco high chair that my husband found. It will grow with her too (up to 80 pounds!).

You can tell, though, that there is a baby in the house. It hits you when you open the front door and see the stroller parked under our coats all hung up.

Great design can be expensive. How do you get the most bang for your buck?

Be patient. Keep looking. Go to flea markets, comb eBay, search craigslist, wait for sales. Be willing to paint, fix, alter, restore things. Mix in things from IKEA.

Tell us about the best deal you have gotten lately for your home.

I think the latest best deal is the vintage crib we found. We had to alter it a bit to make it safe (adding eye hooks on the outside to keep the sides in place), but it’s an adjustable crib that will turn into a toddler bed. It’s wood. We painted it with eco paint to give it some freshness... I ordered a foam mattress online for it since it was an odd size (I sent a paper template of the bottom). All in all the whole thing cost a little over $100. I like how it looks so much more than any new crib I was considering.

home tour

Baby's room: Vintage crib, the origami mobile, print from Katherine Sherwood; lockers purchased online and spray painted – adding a shelf on top for storage/display – elephant made by Lisa, plastic bin furniture IKEA, the cool cloth hamper from Japan.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Stuffed toys in the baby's crib

Tell us about one DIY project you have taken on recently and love.

I didn’t tackle it – but my husband hung the wallpaper in our daughter’s room. I love it. It’s space themed – a reproduction of a vintage print. It really was a PAIN to do as the paper came untrimmed. We spent all this time cutting the pattern out of all this white space (I did help with that). And then he had to figure out how to hang it. The glue, the folding of the paper together, the waiting, the lining up, the sponging and brushing and trimming at the floor board/ceiling. My husband did such a great job.

In fact, if my daughter grows out of the paper — someday I envision her saying, "Mommy, I want my room to be 'insert color here'" — then I want to move her into the room next door (currently the guest room) so that we can keep the wallpaper up forever.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Space-themed wallpaper and robots (clock from Urban Outfitters) decorate the baby's room, as well as a lucky Japanese dog, an elephant print from Mati, a little bird from Blair, a shoe print from Ali, and Lisa's childhood jewelry boxes.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Baby's room: Robot lamp is Urban Outfitters, little chairs are Sally Davies, sock monkey was a gift from a friend and came from Fresh Art.  

Do you have a favorite piece of furniture in your home? Tell us about this item.

One favorite?? So hard. I do love our dining room table. It’s long and doubles as a fabulous work space. I also like our schoolroom chairs and the pie chest in the dining room that we converted into a stereo cabinet.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Dining room: Candlesticks and pedestal bowl from Lisa's grandma; chairs from a university salvage store and were re-finished by Lisa's old studio mate Christopher Faiss.

I also really love our bed. It’s an old French iron bed that I stripped god knows how many layers of brown and red paint off of (lord, was that a pain! picture me in the backyard with that horrid paint stripper chemical, in industrial rubber gloves, using a toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies). So worth it. When we upgraded to a queen-size mattress, I had a friend add simple extensions to it so we could keep it. I couldn’t dream of parting with it.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

The iron bed and ceramic art pieces by Diana Fayt

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Vintage photo of Lisa's grandmother, dressform artwork by Lisa (as a college undergrad), toolbox used as a jewelry box, robot by Hillary Lang, yellow cuff art piece by friend Lynn Beldner, yellow card by Rori of paper monkey press, and clipboard art by Alyson Fox (we traded).

You are an artist. What household chore do you tend to back burner most so you can tend to your creative life?

Any household chore. Cooking, the dishes, vacuuming... Luckily hubby picks up my slack in those areas, especially since we’ve had the baby.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Vintage office supplies and containers and wooden spools of thread

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Vintage toys and childhood drawing by Lisa's husband

What is your most important everyday ritual at home?

I still climb the stairs every night on the way to bed and say good night to our house. I feel we were so fortunate to get this house. I want to feel grateful for it daily.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Gifted mirror from Lisa's mother-in-law (an artist who lives in Santa Fe and has great furniture/taste). Baby clothes are old artworks of Lisa's.

As my daughter gets older, I hope to institute rituals at meal time — or for holidays.

In your home, what is one indulgence you give into?

Flowers (although not as often as I might) and good food. We always indulge in food. Anything fresh, farmers market, handmade, local, sustainably farmed. We have been known to buy the $10 small jar of jam from the really cute and really nice lady who makes it in her kitchen and sells it at the farmers market. Rhubarb jam. Oh heaven.

Lisa Solomon, home tour

Vintage cabinet serves as storage and a kitchen dish station

Lisa Solomon, home tour

A little herb garden in a vintage colander from a friend

What are your favorite stores to shop for home?

There is a great flea market on Alameda island once a month (first Sunday) that is always a good place.

A LOT of the stuff we have came from my friend’s store – Porch Light Antiques. She used to be in Oakland but has since moved to Portland. She has a fantastic eye for things. I could just tell her what I wanted, and she’d look for it. And her prices are reasonable. I totally recommend making friends with a small store owner if you can – it just makes buying/getting furniture that much easier.

I also love Tail of the Yak in Berkeley. They don’t have a site, but I wrote a guest post about them for poppytalk.

I also like to look at Anthropologie’s home stuff (although it’s usually SO pricey) and West Elm Contemporary Furniture, CB2, and IKEA — although I do really try and not buy too many brand new things.

What Home & Garden blogs or websites inspire you the most?

Lisa, I love the home you've created for your family. Thank you so much for sharing it here with us.

Lisa Solomon is a mixed media artist living in Oakland, CA. You may find more about Lisa's artwork on and about other tidbits from her life on her blog Lisa's Musings.
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